Although if it wasn't for Lawrence Westbrook, they probably wouldn't have. Simply put, L-Dub was out of his god damn mind last night. If he didn't make every shot he took in the first half it was damn close, and he finished out 11-16 despite a Kingsbury-esque 40-footer he put up and missed towards the end of the second half. And you know what? Dude was so hot that I don't think anybody, Tubby included, had a problem with him putting that one up. A heat check should always be allowed, and he deserved one. Plus, if that goes in the roof on the barn probably gets blown right off.
Other than Westbrook the only other notables last night were Hoffarber and Nolen. Blake continues to shoot it well (3-7 on threes, 11 total poins) and show that he needs just an inch of room to get his shot off, and still plays a better all-around game than I like to give him credit for. Nolen continues to show he's essentially unguardable getting to the lane (6 assists/1 turnover). If only he had either a jump shot or the ability to finish in the lane he would be a top guard in the country. Yeah, you heard me. But he doesn't, so we'll instead have to be happy with an unguardable penetrating guard who will have some excellent games like last night and others where we want to strangle him. Hopefully more of the former.
That's really pretty much it. Nobody else did much of anything. Devoe only played 12 minutes for some reason. Talor Battle played well but didn't go crazy. The Gophers played ok and won. What more do you want? Five more things? Ok, fine, here you go:
1) If you haven't been to Mac's Industrial Sports Bar on the corner of University and Central you should really check it out. The Wings are awesome and happy hour runs until 7. And 25 cent wings on Tuesdays after seven.
2) Nice parking situation University of Minnesota. We have a parking pass, which means we have a reserved spot in a particularl lot. We roll in right at eight last night and there's a sign blocking our lot saying "Lot Full." They oversold the lot (+shitty parking with snow on the ground, but what do you expect from a state so obsessed with snowmobiles?). So Snacks and I jump out of the car and go talk to some poor student who was clearly far too timid. Snacks used a bunch of lawyer talk about how we pre-paid for a space and I just kept pointing to what was clearly an open parking spot and saying "There's a spot right there." I think at the end Snacks broke out the "reservations" bit from Seinfeld and I said something about liberty being a soul's right to breathe and then we moved the sign, parked, and moved on. As we were walking away another car pulled in behind the sign, and I'm pretty sure the poor attendant girl started crying.
3) I have never been prouder of Gopher fans than I was when Clem was given a standing ovation last night. I recognize that a lot of people were doing it more for the team than for Clem, but I didn't hear any boos at all. I expected to because, let's be honest, there are a holy lot of holier-than-thou morons out there, but there weren't any that I could hear. Well done, folks. He, and the entire team, deserved to be honored and respected, and it was done in an excellent way and I enjoyed it immensely. And speaking of immense, I think Melvin Newbern ate Shawn Kemp (I still love you Melvin).
4) I feel really weird and wrong doing this, but I think it's time we start to question Tubby a wee bit. I have two big issues with last night:
- First, these substitution patterns are driving me crazy. The wholesale line changes have got to stop. The team doesn't have two equal units. The second unit is a large step down from the first, and the team invariably loses momentum when he goes with a 5-for-5. If something is pissing you off about the first team, figure out which player(s) are the problem and replace them. Please stop with the line change. Then last night that second unit is playing crappy and loses the lead so Tubby takes a timeout. You'd assume he'd bring back the good players, but he kept that whole group out there again. I don't get it. Here's how you do it:
- PG: Nolen 30 minutes, Joseph 10 minutes
- SG: Westbrook 30 minutes, Joseph 10 minutes
- SF: Hoffarber 30 minutes, Carter 10 minutes (more for Carter against more athletic teams)
- PF: Johnson 30 minutes, Carter 5, Iverson 5
- C: Sampson 25, Iverson 15
- Slipping in a a few minutes here and there for Cobbs and Rodney (and Bostick). That's a good starting place. Having a deep team doesn't mean you have to play everybody a bunch of minutes, especially when it means you lose track of one of your best players and somehow only give Devoe 12 minutes last night. Yes, that's right. Devoe only played 12 minutes.
- The strategy Tubby chose to employ against Battle was baffling, and the team is lucky it didn't backfire any worse than it did. Having the guards switch on every screen instead of just choosing either Westbrook or Nolen and having him attach himself to Battle wherever he went just seemed like it was a huge mistake, and it did in fact lead to two open three-pointers (one of which was a 30-footer) for Battle where nobody was guarding him due to confusion. The switching even resulted in Blake on Battle quite a few times. Luckily neither Battle nor DeChellis picked up on this. If I had been coaching Penn State I would have just run Battle through picks until Hoffarber was on him, then have him reset the offense and go with a 1-4 isolation play - unstoppable. I also think that against a scorer like Battle it's easier for a defender to contain him when they are on him all game and can get into a rhythm.
5) Finally, I realized I haven't given you an update on Reggie Holmes (Morgan State chucker guy) lately. Since my last Holmes update, Morgan State has played two games; against Towson (W) and against Eastern Kentucky (L). In the game against Towson, Holmes scored just 20 points due to his 6-20 shooting which including a mind-numbing 0-9 from three-point range, all while notching zero assists. In the team's loss to Eastern Kentucky, he hit on his season average almost exactly, scoring 25 on 8-25 shooting, which once again includes a mind-boggling 6-19 from three point range. And once again he managed to tally not a single assist, leaving his season total still at 4 (that's 0.3 assists per game). He has a lot of work to do if he's going to match that career high of 19. And his 222 shots so far this year are now third in all of NCAA Basketball (despite just 41% shooting), which is equal to the amount Westbrook and Joseph, the top two attempters on the Gophers, have taken combined and more than all but two Gophers (Westy and DJ) took all last season.
No wonder he always looks so tired and disinterested.